Coverage on this live blog has ended. Please click here for the latest updates.
Tropical storm warnings extended into Southern California Friday night as Hurricane Hilary, which has been bringing winds and rain to Mexico, approaches the United States.
It’s expected to weaken and become a tropical storm by the time it reaches Southern California, which is forecast to occur by Sunday night.
The storm will bring high winds, up to around 50 mph, but rain and flooding are chief concerns, according to the forecasters.
Officials in Los Angeles, San Diego and other places urged people to take the storm seriously, and to be prepared for flooding and power outages.
“This is real,” Chris Heiser, executive director for the San Diego Office of Emergency Services, said at a news conference.
“This is not like the other storms we’ve experienced. It’s a huge footprint, it goes all the way from the desert out into the ocean,” he said.
Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada also face possible floods, and the governor activated 100 members of the National Guard to assist impacted areas.
What to know about the Category 4 storm
- Hurricane Hilary strengthened to a Category 4 storm early Friday but is expected to weaken before reaching California.
- The National Weather Service warned the system was expected to bring "significant impacts" to the Southwest into early next week.
- The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm watch for parts of Southern California, a first for that part of the United States. Watches were later upgraded to a warning.
- If the system makes landfall in California as a tropical storm, it will be a rarity. The last time this happened in the past century was in Long Beach in 1939.
Navy ships to leave San Diego bases in advance of Hilary
Naval ships and submarines based in the San Diego area will head to sea until the storm passes, the Navy announced tonight.
The commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet set “Sortie Condition Alpha” today and San Diego-based ships will get underway tomorrow, the Navy said in a statement.
“In order to ensure the safety of our Sailors and ships, we are taking all necessary measures to mitigate potential damage to infrastructure and Third Fleet vessels caused by the storm,” said Vice Adm. Michael Boyle, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet. “Safety remains our top priority, and putting all capable ships to sea makes it easier for us to manage the situation ashore,” he added.
Ships and submarines from Naval Base San Diego, Naval Base Coronado and Naval Base Point Loma will leave for the sea, the Navy said. Ships that stay will take precautions to avoid damage, it said.
SpaceX pushes back launch of satellite-carrying rocket
SpaceX delayed the launch of a satellite-carrying rocket from a base on California’s central coast until at least Monday. The company said conditions in the Pacific could make it difficult for a ship to recover the rocket booster.
The once-unthinkable could be happening — how?
Southern California gets tropical storm warning
The tropical storm warning now extends from the California-Mexico border to Point Mugu, which is close to Oxnard on the Pacific Coast, and including Catalina Island, the agency said.
Hurricane Hilary is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm by the time it reaches Southern California, which the hurricane center said was forecast to occur by Sunday night.
But heavy rain and possible flooding are a risk for California and other parts of the U.S. Southwest.
Beyond California: Las Vegas warning of possible floods
While officials in California have been urging people to take Hilary seriously, Las Vegas and other parts of the Southwest also face possible floods.
A likely scenario in Las Vegas is up to 2 1/2 inches of rain through Monday, according to the National Weather Service, but another scenario estimates 3 inches or more.
Las Vegas is under a flood watch from 11 a.m. tomorrow through 5 p.m. Monday, according to the weather service.
It and other parts of Nevada were considered to have a “moderate” flood risk from the storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. Las Vegas’ city government opened a sandbag location.
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo said today he was activating 100 National Guard members in advance of the storm making landfall.
The troops will support areas that are impacted by the storm, his office said.
In Arizona, the state Department of Public Safety also warned drivers of rain and urged caution.
‘It’s a waiting game’ as Hilary moves towards California
The expected impacts from the storm in Southern California were trending a little heavier when it comes to rainfall, the National Weather Service said today.
“Now it’s a waiting game watching it move northwards,” Alex Tardy, senior meteorologist at the weather service in San Diego, said in a video briefing.
The coasts and valleys could see 2 1/2 inches of rain, but at rates of 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch per hour, according to the agency, and the Inland Empire could see 4 inches.
Some mountains could see up to 10 inches of rain, the weather service said. Lower deserts could get up to 7 inches of rain.
Currently a hurricane, it is expected to weaken to a tropical storm before it reaches California. It is expected to reach Southern California by Sunday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Not only amount of rain, but speed poses risk in U.S.
When Hilary reaches Southern California, it will bring estimated maximum winds of 50 mph, a National Hurricane Center official said.
But it’s the rain, and the rate of rain that poses the most risk, National Hurricane Center Deputy Director Jamie Rhome said today.
Some areas will see 2 to 4 inches, others 4 to 6, and some parts of Southern California even showed possibly 10 inches of rain.
“These rainfall amounts are not typical of this area,” Rhome said video briefing. “Not only that, it’s going to come down much faster than what this area is used to seeing.”
Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas were all under a “moderate” risk of floods, and areas like Palm Springs, California, were considered to be at high risk, he said.
Mexico gets ready for Hilary
Parts of mainland Mexico were prepped for Hilary, with 18,000 soldiers on alert.
On Friday evening, the hurricane was centered about 310 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, near the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. It was moving northwest at 12 mph and expected to turn more toward the north.
Some Cabo San Lucas schools were being prepared as temporary shelters, said Flora Aguilar, a city official.
In La Paz, the picturesque capital of Baja California Sur state on the Sea of Cortez, police patrolled closed beaches to keep swimmers out of the whipped-up surf. Schools were shut down in five municipalities.
‘Potentially unprecedented,’ but mayor says L.A. is prepared
The incoming storm “is potentially an unprecedented extreme weather event” for Los Angeles and the region, but Mayor Karen Bass said that the city is prepared.
“We’re not waiting for the storm to hit,” Bass said at a news conference.
There could be flash flooding across the Los Angeles area, according to the National Weather Service, and there could be tropical-storm force winds.
Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley said that over 3,500 firefighters are “standing ready” and that it has search and rescue teams that have responded to hurricanes elsewhere in the country.
Los Angeles County could get 2 to 4 inches of rain, and up to 7 inches in parts of the San Gabriel Mountains and foothills, Carol Parks, general manager of the city’s Emergency Management Department, said.